Eight great life hacks from Caitlin Moran
Flirting, feminism, fashion and how to be a joyous woman.
Caitlin Moran is an award-winning columnist and author. In 2011 her comic memoir How to Be a Woman was published to popular and critical acclaim. Now, as part of BBC Radio 4's Riot Girls season, the writer narrates a new dramatisation of her bestselling book. Here are her wisest words from the drama.
1. Solve problems by figuring and reasoning things out for yourself
Caitlin was fifteen-years-old when she became a feminist. On presuming The Female Eunuch was a rude book she took it out of the library and read it cover to cover, and was bowled over by the feminist text. “Germaine Greer teaches me that the most important thing you can do as a feminist is figure and reason things out for yourself,” says Caitlin. “Feminism is not a set of rules but a set of tools: a logic you apply to your problems and unhappinesses in order to work out how they occurred and how then to solve them.”
2. If you’re looking for a good kisser, find a competent conversationalist
Caitlin didn’t have much luck with boys when she was growing up in Wolverhampton so on moving to London as a teen she was determined to make headway with the opposite sex – and set about learning to flirt. “The biggest lesson of my life” at that time, the writer says, is “that you can just ask people to kiss you and they often oblige.” She also remarks that, “by and large, the best kissers are also the best conversationalists: they just kind of listen to what you’re doing and reply.”
3. To tell if something is sexist, ask this one simple question
As a young writer for music magazine Melody Maker, Caitlin’s boss asked her to sit on his lap. She was thrown. “Sometimes, when some sexism happens,” Caitlin says, “you can be in such a panic you’re not sure it’s some sexism or not. You doubt yourself. Here then is my infallible guide to recognise if you are dealing with sexism or not. Ask yourself one question: are the men having to deal with this? Are the men putting up with this disconcerting, time wasting crap?” She says, “If the answer is no then the chances are you’ve got some sexism right there.” (Needless to say, none of the men in the office were being asked to sit on the editor’s lap.)
4. Constantly talking about your relationship? It might be time to end it
Caitlin’s first boyfriend, Courtney, was a “troubled and lazy” boy in a band and he made her “miserable”. And because she was so unhappy she talked about him constantly. She spent hours on the phone to her sister, late at night, dissecting the relationship. The fact of the matter is, “When a girl is in an actual, real, happy relationship she goes oddly quiet,” says Caitlin. “She just kind of disappears for six months and then resurfaces, eyes shiny, and usually around six pounds heavier.” But, says the writer, “When you’re unhappy… you never stop talking.”
5. Follow these four simple fashion rules
Caitlin explains how there are four simple rules to fashion. The first three: “leopard skin is a neutral; you can get away with almost everything if you wear it with black tights and ankle boots; and Sellotape is not strong enough to mend a hole in the crotch of your tights.” The fourth rule is, “never buy anything dry clean. If you see something nice that’s dry clean just put a fifty pound note in the pocket and walk away.”
6. To save money, throw a party at the end of your marriage rather than the beginning
Problem number one with weddings is the cost, the author argues. So why aren’t we thinking outside the box? “The average cost of a UK wedding is £31,000. If we were starting from scratch,” says Caitlin, “surely we would decide to throw a gigantic £31,000 celebration of love right at the end of the whole thing, when we’re in our sixties and seventies, the mortgage is paid off and we can see if the whole ‘I love you forever’ thing actually worked out?”
Insist on the right for a joyous life: look all your problems squarely in the eye and laugh.
7. There is nothing motherhood can teach you that you can’t learn elsewhere
“The world has convinced itself that women are somehow incomplete if they don’t have children,” says Caitlin, “That there are lessons that motherhood can teach you that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere and that every other attempt at this wisdom and self-realisation is a poor and shoddy second.” But “this is obviously a madness,” says the writer. She argues that “there is nothing motherhood can teach you that you couldn’t get from reading the hundred greatest books, climbing hills, loving recklessly, drinking whisky with revolutionaries, swimming in a river in winter, growing roses, being polite, and always being kind to strangers.”
8. Insist on the right for a joyous life
Women tend to see themselves as an “endless to-do list”, Caitlin says: “A series of problems – fat, hairy, unfashionable, spotty, smelly, tired, unsexy – to be solved.” She argues that women believe that in order to become “halfway acceptable” they need to spend a great deal of time and money on these problems. But her own experience has shown her that “we have to have zero tolerance on all these tiny but cumulative worries that make being a woman so miserable.” This wave of feminism isn’t about throwing oneself under the King’s racehorse, she says, it’s just insisting on “the right for a joyous life”, looking all these worries “squarely in the eye” and laughing.